The numbers for Matt Hague are pretty astounding.
But he doesn’t really look at them.
In the superstitious lexicon of baseball players, if something causes a slide it’s avoided. So while Hague has seen that his offense has been off-the-hook good in the International League this season, he’s not obsessively tracking the numbers.
“I’ve seen them before,” Hague said with a laugh. “I don’t really pay much attention to it just because usually when that happens with me I get in a little slump. I kinda take it day by day.”
Saturday was a pretty good day for Hague to take. He went 3 for 4 with a solo home run and a two-run double to pace the Buffalo Bisons to a 5-1 win over the Columbus Clippers at Coca-Cola Field.
He continues to be the most consistent hitter in the IL.
Hague leads the league in hits with 121, ranks second with 35 doubles and has driven in 57 runs. His batting average is .354, well in front of Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s Cole Figueroa who is hitting .326.
Oh, and Hague’s on-base percentage is one of the best in the minor leagues.
Entering Saturday’s game, his on-base percentage was .438 – 49 points higher than any other batter in the IL and second among all full-season minor leaguers. Double-A Corpus Cristi’s A.J. Reed is the minor-league leader with .449 on-base percentage at two levels this year.
But Hague’s performance starts well before the game.
“He’s great at practice,” manager Gary Allenson said. “He disciplines himself and carries it into the game. He’s done it since Day 1. I look back, I have all the sheets from the Opening Day lineup and I hit him sixth to start out with. I think it took me four games to figure out he’s our No. 3 hitter. He’s done an outstanding job.”
The numbers earned Hague his third IL All-Star Game appearance, but the numbers don’t drive him. Winning does.
And sometimes that leads to slightly aggressive mistakes.
Like that double in the seventh.
The Bisons were nursing a 3-1 lead when Melka Mesa and Dalton Pompey opened the inning with back-to-back hits. Hague stepped up and drilled a shot to left that got behind the outfielders. Mesa and Pompey both scored. Hague watched the play and tried for third, but was easily caught in a short-lived rundown.
“Yeah at the time, it was a closer game … It’s one of those things during the game, I was just thinking be aggressive,” Hague said. “Thinking back on it now, I should have stayed on second but I got a little excited.”